Morehead Normal School

This photograph, a part of the Cora Wilson Stewart Collection at the University of Kentucky, was labeled by Ms. Stewart as students and faculty in front of the first building constructed at the Morehead Normal School. I have digitally enhanced the photograph and also provided some coloring. The photograph was taken circa 1910-1915. The gentleman on the far left appears to be Frank Button and the lady on the far right appears to his wife. The lady standing next to Ms. Button appears to be Mrs. J.A. Robinson. The photograph was taken in the winter as ice icicles hang from the roof of the building and snow appears to blanket the field in the background. If you can identify others, please let me know

In 117 years, the sweep of history has carried Morehead State University and its predecessor institution, the Morehead Normal School, from one makeshift classroom to the high-tech world of Internet-based classes and a radio telescope which reaches from a campus hillside literally to the stars.

One student appeared on the first day of class in October, 1887, in a little, rented cottage where the Adron Doran University Center now stands. Tens of thousands of students have come from the foothills and mountains, the river towns and the hillside farms of East Kentucky and beyond to seek the means to a better life in this beautiful, forested valley. Our first president, Frank Button, and his widowed mother, Phebe, literally spent their lives bringing "a light to the mountains" by founding a church-sponsored school to train teachers. The institution came under state control in 1922 and achieved university status in 1966.

Today, Morehead State University has more than 9,500 students from 100 Kentucky counties, 42 states and 37 nations. They are enrolled on campus, at extended campus centers in Ashland, Jackson, Mt. Sterling, Prestonsburg and West Liberty, and several other locations in East Kentucky and across the globe through the World Wide Web. MSU has the state's best computer-student ratio in its computer laboratories and the campus is ranked among the safest in the nation.

Nearly 50,000 persons have received degrees from MSU. Nearly 80 degree programs are available on the two-year, four-year and graduate levels through four colleges (Caudill College of Humanities, College of Business, College of Education, and College of Science and Technology) and the Institute for Regional Analysis and Public Policy. Two-thirds of the faculty hold doctoral degrees. MSU supports its missions of teaching, applied research and public service through an annual budget of more than $96 million.

Morehead State was the first institution in Kentucky to offer a complete degree program, the Master of Business Administration (MBA), totally through the World Wide Web. In addition, the University hosts graduate-level programs for nurse practitioners and physicians assistants through the University of Kentucky. The University is acquiring a satellite tracking system in partnership with NASA in the ongoing development of the new Space Science Center.

MSU established East Kentucky's first public radio station, WMKY, in 1965 and today provides this region of the state with a 24-hour network of three FM transmitters identified as Morehead State Public Radio. Preserving the region's cultural heritage is the primary responsibility of MSU's Kentucky Folk Art Center and Kentucky Center for Traditional Music.

Dr. Ronald G. Eaglin took office July 1, 1992, as the 12th president of the University. He previously served as chancellor of Coastal Carolina University and vice chancellor of the University of South Carolina at Spartanburg. Dr. Eaglin is the senior state university president in Kentucky. He has announced plans to retire at the end of 2004. A search for his successor is underway.

The University is located in the foothills of the Daniel Boone National Forest in Rowan County, midway between Lexington, Ky., and Huntington, W.Va., on Interstate 64.

MSU is a charter member of the Ohio Valley Conference in NCAA Division I and sponsors 18 intercollegiate sports for men and women. The football Eagles compete in the Pioneer Football League. Our coed cheerleading squad has won 14 national championships and the all-girl squad has four national titles.

MSU's first metallic campus marker of historical significance was unveiled Nov. 17, 1972, on the front lawn of Lappin Hall. It was dedicated in connection with the University's 50th anniversary as a public institution.
The text reads:

"The citizens of Morehead and Rowan County proudly convey their congratulations and gratitude to President Adron Doran, the faculty, staff and students of Morehead State University on the occasion of the institution's
Golden Anniversary, fully realizing that the University is the economic lifeblood of our community and has made Morehead the educational and cultural center of Northeastern Kentucky."

It was on this property that Phebe Button and her son, Frank, with help from the Christian Church of Kentucky, founded Morehead (Christian) Normal School (MNS), the noble forerunner of Morehead State University. Classes began here in a rented house on the morning of October 3, 1887, with one student, Annie Page. By day’s end, Ethel Bertie Hamm also had enrolled and the Buttons had created what would be known as “a light to the mountains.” MNS was among 25 private normal schools opened in the state between 1870 and 1905. The school became a public institution in 1922.

Thomas F. Hargis, a native of Morehead and chief judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, donated four acres of land and $500 in cash to Morehead Normal School in 1889 for the institution’s first classroom building. Hargis Hall, a wooden structure, was razed 36 years later to provide a site for Allie Young Hall. It is believed that the Hargis land extended from just east of Allie Young Hall to west of Camden-Carroll Library and south to University Street. The native stone monument just west of this marker was placed in the foundation of Hargis Hall to honor Judge Hargis for his gift to the struggling young school which would evolve into Morehead State University.

President Frank C. Button employed nine persons to constitute the faculty and administrative staff of Morehead State Normal School when it reopened in 1923-24 as a public institution. They included Charles D. Lewis, academic dean; Inez F. Humphrey, English; Emma Shader, music; Dan M. Holbrook, mathematics; Charles O. Peratt, history; Evelyn Royalty, expression (speech); Henry C. Haggan, agriculture; Ruby Vansant, mathematics; and Anna Carter, secretary. The nine first were memorialized in 1960 with the naming of student family apartment buildings in Lakewood Terrace.

As its primary support of the war effort in World War II, this campus hosted the training of more than 4,400 sailors as shipboard electricians between June 1942 and July 1944. The U. S. Navy Training School (Electrical) had 600 trainees at a time. Coming directly from basic training, the “Bluejackets” lived in Thompson and Mays Halls during their four month tours. The sailors went from MSU to wartime duty stations aboard U. S. warships, many never to return. Thanks to the leadership and patriotism of President William H. Vaughan and Dean Warren C. Lappin, the Navy’s presence helped MSU survive the strains of wartime rationing and low enrollments.


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